For better or worse, it appears the Bears are going with Caleb Hanie at quarterback until Jay Cutler is healthy enough to play or Josh McCown knows enough of the playbook to run the offense.
"Caleb's our quarterback," coach Lovie Smith said. "He, like the rest of our team, didn't play well (Sunday). But give us a little bit of time. Hopefully we'll see some improvements this week for our football team."
The question is: How much worse does it have to get before rookie Nathan Enderle gets his chance? Enderle was the only other quarterback active in Sunday's loss to the Chiefs, but the fifth-round pick is not ready to start an NFL game.
Smith quickly rejected the notion of bringing in Chicago native and free-agent quarterback Donovan McNabb – or any other outsider.
"We have our quarterbacks here now," Smith said. "We have three of them, and another one is rehabbing who will come back hopefully this year. Those are our quarterbacks."
Smith believes strongly that time and effort is better spent on improving players who are already in the system rather than in bringing in another quarterback off the street, and that would apparently include the notion of plucking Brett Favre off his riding mower and swapping his Wrangler jeans for a Bears uniform.
"We're not looking on the outside," Smith said. "We're not having a quarterback tryout or anything like that. These are our guys, and we're all going to get better. That's our group. We're going to make improvements with our group, like all positions."
Since the starting quarterback gets almost every practice rep during the week, it's Hanie who must improve.
"Like most teams in the league, you spend most of the reps on the guy who will be playing," Smith said, "and you get some reps for the next guy. That's what we'll do this week, next week and in the future."
That would hopefully include tweaking the offense to adapt to and accentuate Hanie's skill set, but whoever the starter is, he must be able to function in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's scheme.
"It's a combination of both, which we've done," Smith said. "Just like if you put in a new offensive lineman, a new running back, or a new wide receiver, you adapt some. But it's not like you're going to throw out what we do and change our philosophy completely. We're not going to do that. Caleb can run our offense. We had opportunities (Sunday). We need to hit a couple of routes."
McCown has been on the roster since Nov. 23, and he continues to get a firmer grasp of the playbook. But because of the practice format, he is given little opportunity to practice what he's learned. He didn't play football last season, and he threw just six passes in 2009 and none the year before. Smith admits he faces an uphill battle.
"It's hard to just come in off the street," he said. "Josh is listed as our third quarterback. And the third quarterback is not getting a lot of reps (with the first team). He's been taking a lot of the look-squad reps right now (running the opponent's plays). He's a veteran, but hopefully we won't get to our third quarterback."
McCown said he will have learned enough of the playbook to be active next week, but Smith isn't so sure.
"That's hard to say this week," he said. "We have time – unless there's an injury. Nathan Enderle is our backup quarterback right now. We'll see how the week goes. I can't look that far into the future. Josh is doing everything we're asking him to do and he is making progress, but our focus is somewhere else right now."
Coach Jim Schwartz met with his captains on the flight home following the 31-17 loss at New Orleans and he laid out his agenda. Selfishness will not be tolerated and selfish acts on the football field will result in benchings.
"There are things that happen that you have to walk away from and these last two weeks we haven't walked away from them," Schwartz said in his weekly press conference. "We were selfish and we cost our team."
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is serving a two-game suspension for stomping a Green Bay lineman. Wide receiver Titus Young potentially cost the team a touchdown Sunday with an immature personal foul penalty. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew and kick returner Stefan Logan took unsportsmanlike conduct penalties Sunday.
The Lions are becoming the poster children for on-field misbehavior. Their 26 personal foul penalties lead the league, according to research by STATS, LLC.
"There are two kinds of penalties that we need to get off our radar – the ones before the snap and after the whistle," Schwartz said. "We have done a very good job of decreasing before-the-snap penalties this year. Even in this game, in a very difficult place to play in a loud Sunday night environment and everything else, we had two in the game."
But the after-the-whistle malfeasance is becoming an epidemic – a costly one. Suh's indiscretion cost them four points (a touchdown for the Packers instead of a field goal). Young's penalty cost them four (a field goal instead of a touchdown). Logan's cost 30 yards in field position during a one-score game.
"It's stuff that happens in just about every single football game," Schwartz said. "There are things that happen that you have to walk away from. These last two weeks we haven't walked away from them. You walk away from it and a flag doesn't get thrown and you don't put your team at peril.
"In these three cases in this game and the one incident last week, we were selfish and cost our team."
The result could be some bench time. Young was benched for most of the fourth quarter. Logan was not benched. Pettigrew's penalty happened late in the game.
"We want to play as hard and as physical as we can from the snap to the whistle and anything that's after the whistle, we don't need to be any part of," Schwartz said. "Anything that happens after the whistle is strictly a selfish play. It has nothing to do with anything. It's strictly a selfish thing.
"Those issues will continue to be addressed and players that do those things won't play."
Green Bay Packers
The timing couldn't be better for the Packers to offer their fans a chance to own a piece of major sports' only publicly operated franchise.
Starting at 8 a.m. Central time Tuesday, the fifth stock sale in the team's 92-year history – and the first since 1997 – will be under way. The Packers plan to initially sell 250,000 shares at a cost of $250 apiece with a limit of 200 shares per person (including those purchased in the last stock sale).
The latest stock offering, which is being held to raise money for a planned $143 million expansion of Lambeau Field, will be conducted online at www.packers.com and through the mail.
Making a quasi-investment in the Packers would seem to be a hot buy right now, even though the shares have no real value. The NFL's most storied club hasn't fared any better than it has in the last calendar year, winning 18 straight games with a Super Bowl title thrown in for good measure.
The Packers are 12-0 this season. Green Bay clinched a spot in the playoffs and its first NFC North title since 2007 on Sunday, when it pulled out a scintillating 38-35 win at the New York Giants with a final-minute drive that ended with a Mason Crosby field goal as time expired.
Head coach Mike McCarthy doesn't foresee complacency coming over his players in the final four weeks of the regular season because they have plenty more to accomplish – most notably, gaining home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and possibly becoming only the second team to finish 16-0.
"Right now, our foot's on the gas, and we're going," McCarthy said Monday. "We're playing to win games."
The Packers play three of their next four games at home, beginning with a visit from the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Green Bay has a two-game lead over NFC West champion San Francisco (10-2) in the conference race.
While the team had a chance to savor the division title Monday, when commemorative T-shirts and hats were distributed in its Lambeau locker room, the focus quickly turned to the future.
"I've very impressed with what we've accomplished so far," McCarthy said. "But, there's so much more out there for us. Frankly, we just came off of a Super Bowl victory. We look at this as a step, we look at this as one of the mile markers on our journey to Indianapolis (for Super Bowl XLVI). We make no bones about it. Winning the Super Bowl is what this business is all about. Winning your division (and) home-field advantage is the best path to get you there. It's the preferred path."